Teacher, author, and coach Dawn Green's new young adult novel How Samantha Smart Became a Revolutionary (Red Deer Press) is a startling prescient look at a country torn apart by a tight election (sound familiar?).
In the midst of the conflict and chaos, a seemingly average girl is thrust, via the madness of social media, into the spotlight. Labelled a terrorist by some and a revolutionary by others, Samantha Smart becomes the fulcrum of a changing tide. It's a wild ride from being captain of the high school soccer team to leading the fight against a corrupt government, and the book is a rallying cry for the impact an average person can indeed have.
We're pleased to welcome Dawn to Open Book to talk about her timely novel. We focus on her memorable title, as part of our Entitled Interview series, and she tells us about her all-time favourite titles, talks about why her title needed to be what it is, and tells us about the not one but two new novels she'll be working on next.
Tell us about the title of your newest book and how you came to it.
Well, get ready for a mouthful… The title of my new novel is How Samantha Smart Became A Revolutionary. I think I had this title in the back of my mind even before I started writing. In fact in many ways the title inspired the character and the story.
What, in your opinion, is most important function of a title?
Like the image on the book jacket the title is the first thing a reader sees, and sometimes they don’t even see the cover when they are being verbally told a title, so I believe that the title needs to harness and then engage the reader. Having said that, I also love titles that are somewhat of a mystery and only reveal themselves as you read, containing multiple layers and meanings.
What is your favourite title that you've ever come up with and why? (For any kind of piece, short or long.)
My previous YA novel is titled In the Swish. This title not only rolls of the tongue but it specifically targets my main audience with something they can relate to – all basketball players attain to have the perfect shot, to hear the swish. Also, as I mentioned above, this was a title that had multiple meanings, which were revealed throughout the story.
What about your favourite title as a reader, from someone else's work?
While I am not sure I have a single favourite title (that’s like picking a favourite book – impossible) I do appreciate a title that is playful and witty and can make me giggle when I am searching for my next read in the bookstore.
Thinking about some titles that have stuck with me: Ella Minnow Pea: A Lipogrammatic Epistolary Tale, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, The Storied Life of A.J. Firky … I guess I like titles that are mouthful!
Did you consider any other titles for your current book and if so what were they? Why did you decide to go with the title you eventually picked?
I knew How Samantha Smart Became a Revolutionary was wordy and I played with other ideas, tried shortening it, but in the end this is exactly what the story is about, the steps and actions that propel this average young woman to evolve into a revolutionary. A question asked is a question wanting answers. It may be long but any abbreviation of the title took away from the initial interest that I am hoping to generate with the reader.
What are you working on now?
As I wrap up and get ready for the release of How Samantha Smart Became a Revolutionary, I am looking forward to getting back into two projects, one another YA novel that fits into the category of adventure/fantasy, and an adult Historical Fiction story that takes place in South America. As always I type away, waiting to see what story will come knocking next.
Dawn Green is the author of the critically acclaimed YA novels When Kacey Left and In the Swish, recipient of the 2016 Bolen Children's Book Prize. She is a teacher and basketball coach who lives in Victoria, BC.